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A. Zucker

The Historicism of Mussorgsky

The article is devoted to the peculiarities of Mussorgsky’s historical thinking – a unique phenomenon in the history of musical art. It examines the composer’s operatic concepts, which raised for the first time in musical practice the problem of “people and history” in all its social and moral complexity. The problem was the cornerstone of Russian social thought in the second half of the 19th century and worried historians, philosophers, publicists, and artists. In the author`s opinion Mussorgsky, was endowed with an extraordinary social-analytical gift that made up the soul, the core of his creative method. Based on his own analysis of the life of Russian society, its various strata, on reflections on the country’s historical past, on its spiritual foundations and traditions, listening to the most complicated «score» of the philosophical, religious, social and political sentiments of the era, the composer formed an original, integral and at the same time a constantly evolving frame of reference. The article compares Mussorgsky’s operas with the works of eminent historians – N. Karamzin, N. Kostomarov, S. Solovyov, and concludes that the implementation of specific historical characters, events, facts is of the highest degree of accuracy. Musorgsky’s historicism was not limited to the resurrection of the past. The author of the article analyzes the complex internal motives, the deep meaning of the historical collisions of the composer, the action in his concepts of the principle “past in the present”. This principle meant an artistic reflection of the phenomena and processes of the past, which contained the prerequisites for future social development, and which revealed the roots of social conflicts in Russia of that historical period.

Key words

historicism, social-analytical method, “past in the present”, psychologism, monodrama, autobiography.